Get ready to travel back in time. A time to when you were just a little kid and enjoyed the simple things in life such as: red tomato sauce, itty bitty meatballs and tender circle pasta shapes. Once you try this adult homemade version of Spaghettio’s, you will be hooked! This dish the perfect combination of cozy, comforting and has that sentimental nostalgia to bring you right down memory lane. It truly gives you all those childhood 90’s vibes in the best way possible. So, with that being said, make your next dinner both fun and tasty all in one!
I hate to admit it, but I lovedddd Spaghettio’s as a kid. I feel like you were either someone who loved them or thought they were completely gross. Hi! Over here...yep, I was one who loved them. However, I didn’t eat them as often as I would like because they were not the healthiest. Convenient, yes...tasty, yes....fun to eat, yes...healthy, not so much. I loved just scooping spoonfuls of small pasta rings, itty bitty meatballs and slurping the saucy tomato sauce. It was so satisfying!
So, if you were like me and loved them back then, I can gaurantee that you will love this dish now. This Grown Up Spaghettio’s version is far superior to the canned version you might remember as a child. This Pretty Plate version consists of:
An adorable, tiny, flavorsome army of meatballs that get packed with bread crumbs, parmesan and seasonings. They then, get baked to perfection in a short 15 minutes.
A super saucy tomato sauce made tasty with three versions of tomatoes, plenty of fresh garlic and onions and pinch of sugar to add a little sweetness.
Tender small O pasta shapes that are easy, so fun to eat and even kid friendly!
To put the icing on the cake, just top your bowl with some extra herbs, grated parmesan cheese because you can never have too much cheese (trust me, that isn’t a thing) and some red pepper flakes to turn up the heat if you’re into that.
This iconic go to meal and somewhat childhood “delicacy” when we were kids, can now be passed down to your kids with this Pretty Plate recipe! But, now the memories of it being unhealthy or “from a can” can be eliminated.
The Pasta Shapes: When it comes to the little O shape pasta, I feel like I was lucky enough to find the perfect resemblance. This is the brand I found from Mariano’s. I believe they have it at Jewel, possibly target, amazon and instacart. You can always use any O or circle shaped pastas such as ditalini as well.
The Itty Bitty Meatballs: When forming the meatballs, you want them to be small and mini. In order to get them to be this small, I used a 1 TSP measuring spoon to scoop the meatball mixture out of the bowl and roll them into mini versions. Do not over fill the teaspoon, because remember the goal is: mini. We like small adorable foods, although they can be tedious, it is worth it and they are our friend!
Did you make this dish? If so, tag @prettyplatebymichelle or #prettyplatebymichelle on instagram! I would love to see your Pretty Plate and receive feedback.
Serves 5+, INGREDIENTS: For the Saucy Spaghettio’s Tomato Sauce
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 TBSP sugar
1/4 Cup yellow onion, finely minced
1 TBSP fresh garlic, finely minced
1 TBSP italian seasoning
1/4 Cup heavy cream
1-2 TBSP olive oil
Finely mince your yellow onion and your fresh garlic. Measure out and set both aside.
Open your can on peeled tomatoes, your can of tomato sauce and your can of tomato paste. Set all aside.
Heat a pot over medium heat. Add 1-2 TBSP olive oil. Once heated add your minced yellow onions and minced garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until they become fragrant and onions become translucent.
Add your whole peeled tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes. Let them soften so you can crush them into chunks.
Add your tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, italian seasonings and heavy cream. Mix everything well. Bring the sauce to a simmer and place the lid on top.
Simmer over medium to low heat for 20 minutes. Make sure to stir every so often and make sure to break apart those bigger whole peeled tomatoes.
When done, turn the heat off and keep the lid on.
Makes about 65 mini meatballs, INGREDIENTS: For the Baked Itty Bitty Beef Meatballs
1 Lb. Ground beef, 80/20%
3/4 Cup italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 Cup grated parmesan
1 TBSP fresh parsley flakes, finely chopped
2 TBSP yellow onion, finely minced
1 TBSP fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 TSP Salt
1/4 TSP Pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and non stick spray. Set aside.
Finely mince your yellow onion and your fresh garlic. Measure out and set both aside. Finely chop your fresh parsley flakes, measure out and set aside.
In a bowl, add your ground beef, italian seasoned bread crumbs, grated parmesan, eggs, parsley flakes, yellow onion, fresh garlic, salt and pepper.
Using your hands, mix everything well for about 3-5 minutes.
Take a 1 TSP measuring spoon and scoop some of the mixture out (DO NOT OVER FILL). Remove the mixture from the TSP and roll into an itty bitty meatball in your hand.
Place your rolled mini meatball onto your prepared baking sheet. Continue this process until all of the meatball mixture has been used up and you have about 65 mini meatballs.
When oven is done preheating, place your tray of prepared itty bitty meatballs and bake them at 400 for 15 minutes.
When done, remove from heat and let cool.
ASSEMBLING THE GROWN UP SPAGHETTIO’S DISH:
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Once boiling, add your O pasta shapes and boil for 11-15 minutes or until they are al dente.
When done, drain and run under cold water for about 30 seconds. Remove and drizzle some olive oil over so they do not stick tougher.
Remove the lid from your tomato sauce pot. Using a 1 cup measuring cup, scoop out the O pasta shapes and add them to your sauce. Add about 4 cups total. (NOTE: You can add a little more or a little less, it is your preference.)
Next, add about 50 itty bitty meatballs to the pot as well.
Using a spoon mix the sauce, the O shape pasta and the itty bitty meatballs together. (NOTE: if you feel it’s too saucy or the sauce to pasta and meatball ratio is not to your liking, add a little more pasta and a few more meatballs. Then, mix again).
When done, serve with extra fresh parsley flakes, extra grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes if desired.
PRETTY PLATE KITCHEN ITEMS USED: